June and Dave O’Neill have written an important book on the history of racial and gender differences in jobs and pay, the legal efforts to reduce these gaps, and why the labor market gaps due to discrimination have greatly declined over time. Their conclusions about the ineffectiveness of various federal laws to reduce discrimination and on the decline in labor market discrimination will be controversial, but the authors back up their claims with detailed and thorough analysis. Required reading for anyone who wants to learn much more about the reasons behind the remaining earnings and employment gaps between men and women, and between African American and Hispanic men compared to white men.
(Gary S. Becker, professor of economics and sociology, University of Chicago; Nobel Prize in Economics, 1992)Occasionally a book instantly alters the terms of debate. The Declining Importance of Race and Gender in the Labor Market should become one of them. Comprehensive, meticulously empirical and dispassionate, it brings together in one place all the many pieces of the puzzle. It will inevitably attract controversy because the issues themselves are so fraught with emotion. But when the reality that the O’Neills document—a great American success story—is eventually accepted, as it must be, we will be freed to concentrate on the real sources of the remaining disparities in the labor market. Ultimately, I hope this wonderful book helps us return to our ancient national aspiration: that we Americans are to treat all of our fellow citizens as individuals, not members of groups.
(Charles Murray, W.H. Brady Scholar, American Enterprise Institute)June and Dave O’Neill’s brilliant new book shows that many well-meaning efforts to close the black/white and male/female wage gaps over the last several decades have been misguided. Their insightful and thorough analysis shows that what wage gaps persist between these large, heterogeneous groups are due almost entirely to differential skills, work experience, and choices in education and lifestyle. Their extensive examination of historical data should be required reading for anyone interested in the contentious issue of equality in America.
(Linda Chavez, Former Staff Director of the US Commission on Civil Rights)Is there a pay gap for women and minorities that is caused by discrimination? June and Dave O’Neill slice and dice and make mincemeat of this claim in their new must-read book on how the labor market really works.
(John C. Goodman, President and CEO, National Center for Policy Analysis)June and Dave O’Neill have written the modern Bible on the role of race and gender in labor markets. Their historical narrative and their statistical evidence gives strong support to the conclusion that the greatest surge for the advancement of African-Africans and women in the labor markets occurred before the onset of the Civil Rights laws. The one finding, meticulously documented, calls into question the continued usefulness of an elaborate civil rights enforcement program that may well be highly counterproductive as this nation seeks to revive its lagging labor markets.
(Richard Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University)An absolutely splendid book—an incisive analysis of an issue that is not going away any time soon. We are sure that we will still be debating racial and gender preferences in employment and the question of “comparable worth” a decade from now. This study is the best possible starting point for anyone who wants to educate themselves on the matter.
(Stephen Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom)Wages in the US show persistent disparities along lines of race and gender. One explanation is the presence of discrimination in labor markets. The authors (both, economics and finance, Baruch College, CUNY) reject the idea that discrimination is a basic cause of wage differentials and argue that the elaborate efforts to equalize earnings are a policy failure. Their exemplary analysis finds that income differences among white men, minorities, and women are due primarily to a skills gap, as are the higher wages paid to Asians. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Supreme Court's 1970 decision adopting the concept of disparate impact, the federal government began to focus on eliminating economic inequality instead of individual acts of discrimination. Administrative bureaucracies such as the Office of Federal Contract Compliance and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission exerted substantial control over personnel practices in the private and public sectors. After analyzing wage gaps for race and gender, the authors find that most differences are attributable to such factors as age, educational attainment, language fluency, region, and kind of employment. This book makes a convincing case that labor market discrimination is a "minimal source" of wage differentials. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; students, upper-division undergraduate and up; professionals. -- R. L. Hogler, Colorado State University
About the Author
June O'Neill is an adjunct scholar at AEI and a professor of economics at Baruch College.